Montreal meals writers share their restaurant headline predictions for 2021

As is the tradition with Eater, we close the year by asking a group of food writers, bloggers, and others from around town to weigh the year down while eating. Your answers – unedited (except for grammar) and in no particular order – will be published in multiple posts when the 2020 clock runs out. Here they share their headline predictions for the coming year.

Joanna Fuchs, Food writerand Associate Editor ELLE Canada: Unfortunately, more closings, but also more resilience.

Restaurants are suffering and will do so for at least the first half of next year, but it’s the bars that I’m really worried about. They are literally on the verge of extinction in our city unless the government steps in to help them by changing the archaic alcohol rules and regulations – FOR ALL. It is ridiculous. How long will it be before the government wakes up the F-Up?

The industry as a whole will change constantly and will be forced to diversify in the future so that the income model is not (and never again) based solely on the sale of groceries. The food service as we know it will never be the same. The bar and restaurant models will adapt to our brave new world, but it will not be easy and not without losses along the way.

JP Karwacki, Time out Montreal editor: We’ll hear of more closings, but we’ll also hear from restaurateurs pushing their projects; We’ll see chefs add new businesses and innovations to their offerings that go beyond food areas on menus and summer events; more cooks experimenting with home cooking and making a limited number of products; but most of all, the voices only get louder and angrier over the lack of supplies for Quebec’s bars.

Iris Gagnon-Paradis, Press Restaurant reporter: I think a lot of restaurant owners and chefs have come up with new side projects that could become permanent; I think of places like Alma’s team’s Tinc Set that would eventually become their own restaurant. I think there will be more restaurants or pop-ups that focus on simpler dishes or shorter menus that are easy to take away with formulas that are easy to adapt to different situations.

Alison Slattery, main photographer, Two food photographers: It’s hard to predict what’s next, but if this pandemic has shown us anything, it is that we are all more resilient if we act caring and showing solidarity with everyone. So we predict innovations in service and product as well as operations, accountability, community maintenance, listening, etc. We look forward to seeing restaurants continue to adapt and cheer them on all the way through this pandemic!

Jason Lee, food blogger, Shut up and eat:
“Third-party delivery apps limit delivery charges.”
“MAPAQ is cracking down on unlicensed catering and food companies at home.”
“More restaurants are building roofs and installing heaters on patios to comply with social distancing protocol to create legal indoor and outdoor spaces.”

Clay Sandhu, food writer, Cult MTL:
This whole year felt like a Black Mirror episode where every headline on The Onion was supposed to come true. With that in mind, here are some of my predictions:

PepsiCo lobbyists were disappointed with the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine: “We were days away from getting Mountain Dew: 4th Wave out.”

OQLF fines comedian Sugar Sammy for his stage name, citing the 400-year history of Drummondville’s legendary sucre sandwich.

“I am proud to announce the full reopening of the restaurants!” Said a triumphant Legault while pressing the “no tip” option for his St. Hubert delivery.

Anonymous, @FNoMTL:
Imagine: The Charbonneau Commission, but for COVID-19.

Amie Watson, freelance food writer, Montreal Gazette and 5à7 podcast: At the beginning of the year, I expect more of the same: more closings and some openings (especially hot, inexpensive, homemade products like Teochew Foodie and Fleurs et Cadeaux). Ontario can now sell mixed cocktails by delivery, but only with food. With the recent announcement in Quebec that restaurants can sell alcohol with delivery (but not mixed cocktails, I don’t think so), I’m keeping my fingers crossed that bars in Montreal can … well, sell anything, but especially mixed cocktails for delivery .

As soon as restaurants open indoor restaurants again, I expect further closings, but also many fast-food restaurants that stormed in and now bought or rented empty restaurants cheaply. Hopefully this will also provide an opportunity for new chefs and family businesses, but I think the entire restaurant industry hopes that we generally have better working conditions, salaries and fairer prices for a more sustainable food system in the future. Like many other journalists, I will wait and see what the new normal will be.

Rachel Cheng, Photographer and food security activist: “The new wave of colored chefs is warmly welcomed by their communities” (no, really – if we look at all of the new restaurants that have opened in the past two years, how many are from People of Color? How many are women? “How many are queer? And then we should ask how we can break down the barriers to entry for underrepresented voices, as individuals and as a society. This is not just political and it is definitely not because I hate North American food, it’s “because of everything we miss – the flavors, memories, new dishes – when we cook with just one voice.)

Ivy Lerner-Frank, Eater Montreal contributor:
“Dr. Arruda gives up public service and opens a Pasteis de Nata shop in Sherbrooke. “But seriously? “Legault gives green light to restaurant and bar reopenings” is what I really want to see.

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